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WLTP & RDE – Treating the Consumer Fairly? No, Not really… (opinion piece)

WLTP & RDE – Treating the Consumer Fairly? No, Not really… (opinion piece)

Posted on 23rd October 2018 at 03:00 PM

by Mark Humphreys, FCA Compliance Manager, Planet Leasing Limited, Essex

In the continuing chaos of the RWA of WLTP and RDE testing, RWA standing for Real World Aftermath (something WLTP proponents didn’t seem to take into consideration before they implemented this new testing regime), the motor industry, and specifically the Leasing segment of that industry, are still struggling to find and supply cars to their clients who unsuspectingly ordered their cars in good faith from their preferred broker.

Impacts of WLTP on the leasing companies and customers

I imagine most people would agree that a more transparent and stringent process for standardising the testing of emissions and performance figures of cars is a good thing – a real benefit for everyone? I’m not so sure, however!

Take one of those same people, make them your customer, and then try to explain to them that the car they ordered 8 weeks ago can no longer be supplied because the manufacturer has decided not to release that particular engine configuration due to WLTP issues. All of a sudden WLTP is not such a great thing, where’s the benefit to that customer?

In fact, things usually kick off and the Broker sits with a face full of teeth trying to explain to an extremely irate customer why vehicle testing is important…ironic really, seeing as the customer has already ‘tested’ the vehicle, found it fit for their purpose and chose that specific model!

Impacts of WLTP on environment

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a die-hard ‘tree-hugger’, but I do care about the mess we may be leaving this world in for our children and their children to clean up; I do feel a deep sense of social responsibility to do the right thing and to be environmentally aware. However, in my opinion, and I’m no expert on this, the whole clean air movement seems to be a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.

Sure, there were errors (maybe even serious errors) in the manufacturer vehicle emissions and performance figures, but knowing these figures were over-inflated and that the engines are actually ‘dirtier’ than labelled, makes no difference whatsoever – people are still buying and driving them and are obviously willing to pay the charges to do so.

I should also note that while I appreciate all the effort put in to getting the figures right, WLTP & RDE did not make the air in London any cleaner! I am frustrated at the knee-jerk reaction and the necessity to right wrongs yet leave the actual causal problem in place and, from where I’m sitting, it seems to be a total waste of time, effort, and money and the massive disruption it caused the industry is still being felt today! Why sink so much effort into the testing of engines that the majority of industry experts say are on the way out? The engines aren’t changing, the figures are. Is there pollution? Yes. Can we do something about it? Yes. Are we doing the right things to sort this problem out? NO!!! Not in my opinion…

The Latest UK government facts on electric vehicles

The latest news articles show us that the UK government is reducing the current available grant amount for electric vehicles from £4500 to £3500 and it has decided to totally scrap the grants for all PHEV and Hybrid vehicles. The UK government say that the prices of these vehicles have dropped enough to make them affordable to the average Joe – that may well be - but why would ‘Joe’ change to a hybrid or electric vehicle?

Let’s face it, the charge-point infrastructure in the UK, whilst good, is not quite there yet. If everybody buys a PHEV or EV the current infrastructure would probably struggle to cope. If you want cleaner air in the cities and major urban areas you will have to incentivise ‘Joe’ by making this choice of vehicle the only really viable option – make them cheaper, really cheaper, not the same price! Why then is the current grant scheme being reduced…?

Suggestions for a sustainable system

Congestion zones (C), Clean Air Zones (CAZ), Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ) all attract, or are soon to attract, charges for entering or driving through these areas. How is this money being utilised? Who is benefitting from this largesse? Should these funds not be wholly fed back into the grant scheme and maybe allow for an increase in the grants for EVs, Hybrids and PHEVs rather than a reduction?

This could be a sustainable system as, those companies with older ‘non-emission’ compliant engines would be charged for using ‘dirty’ engines until such time as their annual Zone charges outweigh the cost of their changing over to newer compliant engines. Then, with fewer vehicles being charged for the emissions zones, there will be less money to allocate to the grant scheme until such time as it basically self-funds itself to completion. Of course government would need to continue to subsidise this grant scheme to ensure its eventual success but this subsidy would mean that these vehicles are not only affordable, but attractively so; it is nothing more than the government is currently spending anyway.

Question: If the collected emission and congestion charges are not being wholly allocated to bring about sustainable, measurable change in clean air protocols and promoting cleaner engines or alternative fuel vehicles, who is asking ‘Why not?’

I may be naïve, but the best ideas are often the most obvious – change does not happen without a pain, a stimulus, a catalyst to trigger that change. Maybe it’s time for consumers to be financially incentivised (‘forced’) to consider EVs and PHEVs to drive the market change so desperately wanted by politicians and city-dwellers alike.


Final thoughts

And then, just so I can end this post on a positive note (NOT), they’re going to implement the same onerous WLTP & RDE testing process on Vans/LCVs (that’s every engine, every model and every added-option combination available) and this testing must be completed by Sept 2019 – oh joy –What havoc is that going to wreak on the UK’s LCV industry?!

Let me, as a non-expert help with this new WLTP process – the van/LCV emission & performance figures are wrong, they were never right, and determining the correct figures will not encourage consumers to change their vehicles – ‘nuff said, job’s a good ‘un! Please can we save the time and money this is going to take and allocate the funds to a solution that will actually benefit people in the long-term?

Discuss…

 

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Special thanks to our FCA Compliance Manager Mark Humphreys, Essex, for writing this opinion article on WLTP & RDE. It should be noted the views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Planet Leasing Limited.

Need more background information on WLTP & RDE?
Read more details here.

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